Saturday, July 20, 2024

Young Adults Inspired to ‘Come Alive’ at Annual Campground Retreat

Memorial Day weekend, more than 80 young Catholic adults withdrew from the chaos of life to the Christian Retreat Center in East Waterford for the second annual young adult retreat hosted by the Diocesan Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.

And though the weekend was an opportunity to find solace and connect with Christ, the gathering was an impressive and uplifting experience to see and hear: men and women in their 20s and 30s kneeling silently in front of the Blessed Sacrament; praying aloud with confidence and full voice; singing songs of praise and worship with full gusto; wiping away overwhelming tears during Communion; welcoming new and unfamiliar faces to their dinner table; and enjoying a true spirit of friendship in campground activities.

“It was an incredible event, and I think it shows the Spirit is moving through our young people,” said Zachary Haney, Diocesan Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry. “They truly have a hunger for God, a hunger for community, and a hunger to take a step back from their busy life. They have a lot coming at them in their 20s and 30s, and it’s a stressful time. They have a hunger to step back from that and seek solace and guidance from the Lord.”

The retreat, “Come Alive,” offered time for prayer, community and solitude in the quiet hills of southwestern Juniata County. Liturgies, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Confession, praise and worship, small-group discussion, testimonies, meals, bonfires and free time around the camp’s lake, trails and athletic fields filled the calendar.

Among the attendees were friends Hannah Bittner and Liz Mince.

Hannah, who attended Millersville University in Lancaster County and knew of the retreat from her experiences with the Diocese’s young adult groups, invited Liz. Both attended the retreat from the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

“I’ve just been seeking some peace and a place to come rest a while, so I thought it would be awesome to come on this retreat weekend,” Hannah told The Catholic Witness. “I’m always looking for ways to connect with other young adults who have the same faith values as we do. It’s great to have things like this to connect with community and not feel so isolated.”

She said she was grateful for the quiet time, especially those that lent to time with Jesus.

“I really think digging deeper into my encounter with Jesus has been a beneficial part of the retreat,” she remarked. “There can be a lot of noise in the world, including things that can cause us to turn away or not be as focused on Him. I think it’s nice to come out and really focus on that relationship with Jesus and deepen that a little bit more.”

Liz said she appreciated the retreat as “a good opportunity to take a break from life and the pressures of work to get a chance to talk to God more.

“It’s great to just be in an environment surrounded by all these people who take their faith seriously. It’s great to be in a room with them, enjoying activities together and growing in faith with one another,” she reflected.

Haney said he’d like to see the retreat continue as an annual event, helping connect young adults to one another and to the many vibrant groups and programs for them in the Diocese.

“I hope they encountered God in some way, shape or form – through the talks, through being outside in creation, through Adoration,” he said of the attendees at this year’s retreat. “I hope they took something from the retreat they can apply to their everyday life. And I hope they felt seen for who they are, and to realize we’re all struggling but we journey together as one Body of Christ.”

Learn more about the programs and events of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry at

(Photos by Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness. Canoeing and volleyball photos courtesy of Alex Sumoski.)

By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness

- Advertisement -spot_img

Submission Deadline

The deadline for submissions to the biweekly Notebook/Parish Obituaries listing is every other Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. Please refer to the Publication Schedule for edition dates and deadlines.

Other News